Founded in 2008 to care for sick, abused, and older elephants, ElephantsWorld in Thailand has become an elephant sanctuary of hope and healing. After decades of exploiting these gentle giants, the tourism industry of Thailand is now embracing a humane way for tourists to visit and support them.
ElephantsWorld is a haven of love and nurturing that allows visitors to have a much more enriching experience than others that simply offer an elephant tour through the forest. These trekking excursions, common in the past for those who wanted to ride elephants, are now considered exploitative and can cause permanent damage to the animals.
Now, the trend is to offer a deeper, amazing experiences by inviting guests to participate in the daily lives of these beautiful creatures. The philosophy at ElephantsWorld is that humans work for the elephants, instead of them working for us! Families typically discover that this alternative is far more rewarding than any trekking ride.
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At ElephantsWorld, visitors help to care for the elephants by gathering and preparing food, followed by a chance to feed the elephants, and even bathing them in the River Kwai. If you’ve never experienced an elephant bathing in a mud bath, you’re in for a treat. There are several different programs tailored to various lengths of stay; some include walking the elephants into the forest, hiking the mountains, and experiencing Thai culture.
The simple and rustic but comfortable Thai-style cottages at ElephantsWorld, situated along the mountains and the river, offer all of the basic necessities for a stay. Beds are covered with mosquito netting, which children find to be loads of fun. The cabins are not air-conditioned, though the fans provide plenty of comfort if you are visiting during Thailand’s hot season and the cool nights offer a nice respite from the hot days. A private bathroom with a shower is attached to each cottage.
Meals at ElephantsWorld are served buffet-style on the terrace of the main building. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served on a set schedule, and everyone eats together looking over the beautiful countryside where the elephants freely roam. The food is traditional Thai fare, prepared by locals from the community.
The peak season for visiting Thailand is December through February. Our stay was in the hotter month of March, when temperatures hover around 100 degrees Fahrenheit; most families would be more comfortable at a cooler time of year. Guests arrive in Kanchanaburi, which is three hours north of Bangkok. We arranged for a private driver to bring us directly to the park from the Bangkok airport.
ElephantsWorld welcomes and encourages family visits, and the experience will stay with children for life. The dedicated staff and volunteers at ElephantsWorld strive to provide a safe and nurturing home to the animals, where guests can enter their world and walk away knowing they have helped. Don’t be surprised if you leave with a special connection to one of these wondrous creatures!
Editor’s Note: Laurel received a media rate to review ElephantsWorld for Ciao Bambino. As always, our thoughts and opinions are our own. Photos by Laurel Perry.
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